The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has awarded a $6.56 billion undefinized contract modification
to Boeing for development and sustainment of an enlarged ground-based midcourse anti-ballistic missile defense system
. Included in the agreement is the accelerated “delivery of a new missile field with 20 additional silos and two additional silos in a previously constructed missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska, and procurement and deployment of 20 additional Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs).” Under the agreement
, the scope of work includes technical capabilities to expand and improve a state-of-the-art, missile defense system to ensure defensive capabilities remain both relevant and current, to include but not limited to: boost vehicle (BV) development; integration of redesigned kill vehicle (RKV) with BV; providing GBI assets for labs and test events; development, integration, testing and deployment of ground systems software builds to address emerging threats; acquisition and emplacement of launch support equipment; expanded systems testing through all ground and flight testing; cyber security support; and, performance based logistics. Work will take place across multiple locations including Huntsville, Alabama; Fort Greely, Alaska; Vandenberg Air Force Base, California; Schriever Air ForceBase, Colorado; Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, Colorado; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Tucson, Arizona. The modification will run through December 2023, and Boeing will be joined by Orbital ATK, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon as the industry team involved in the project.
The USA’s Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program uses land-based missiles to intercept incoming ballistic missiles in the middle of their flight, outside the atmosphere. The missiles are currently based at 2 sites in the USA: 4 at Vandenberg AFB in California, and 20 (eventually 26) at Fort Greely in Alaska.
The well-known Patriot missiles provide what’s known as terminal-phase defense options, while longer-reach options like the land-based THAAD perform terminal or descent-phase interceptions. Even so, their sensors and flight ranges are best suited to defense against shorter range missiles launched from in-theater.
In contrast, GMD is designed to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). It depends on tracking that begins in the boost phase, in order to allow true mid-course interception attempts in space, before descent or terminal phase options like THAAD and then Patriot would be tried. In order to accomplish that task, GMD missiles must use data feeds from an assortment of long-range sensors, including satellites like SBIRS and DSP, some SPSS/BMEWS huge early-warning radars, and even the naval SBX radar.